This Saturday night, Black Sails will return with a third season of 18th-century pirate action on Starz. As the infamous Anne Bonny, Clara Paget is a gender-defying swashbuckler that also enjoys the company of a beautiful woman, specifically brothel madam Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy).
In Season 2, we watched as Bonny and Max formed a bond based on their trauma-ridden pasts and left them right as they came into a large amount of gold. But this scenario also included Jack Rackham, Bonny’s longtime lover and companion, who is a pirate captain and also the one who discovered the Urca gold he’s now sharing with both Max and Bonny.
We chatted with Clara Paget at TCA about what we can expect to see in Season 3, and if there’s any hope she and Max could be together long-term.
AfterEllen.com: We’re always very excited about Bonny’s ongoing relationship with Max. In Season 3, is it romance? Is it just sex?
Clara Paget: There’s a lot going on, but I think it’s something you have to watch. I know it’s going to be the worst thing to say to you because that’s what you’re fascinated by. That’s what’s going on with Bonny so that’s her development in this next season. She’s obviously explored all these things about herself and this trauma that she’s had in the past. Max has helped her a lot with that, but going forward, how is that going to work as a threesome is what we’re gonna see. Add to that the new money that they got, which, more money more problems, right?
AE: Was there anything you shout this season that was more challenging for you?
CP: Not really. I think we—I toughened up so much on the first season. They threw everything at me, physically demanding, being against the elements every day: the sun, the smoke—you’ve got all these things going on. I have very pale skin. I’m blonde; I’m blonde and pale. I dye my hair red; I’ve got tequila sunrise roots. I look bald or gray. So that’s a challenge! I guess emotionally it’s a challenge for me to turn into this really tough masculine role. But also very rewarding and i”m very grateful for doing that becauseI am a bit of a tomboy anyway and being able to play this girl—I’ve done modeling for years, and it’s always the touch-ups checking for every bit of dirt off your face, and I’m so not like that. So play a role that’s more similar to me as a character—I like to just kind of roll around wearing filth, and they go, “Checks!” and I’m like, rolling around and get back up and [I’ll] be ready to go. So that’s really fun.
AE: Bonny’s a tough woman, but she has some tender moments, too. How do you play those moments where she’s more vulnerable?
CP: A lot of stumbling, a lot of stuttering. You see in Season 2 where she’s explaining her past. Actually, no—that’s not very stuttering. That’s more of a lucid dream, I feel. [It’s] kind of [a] Lynch-esque, out-of-body experience, just kind of talking from this deep down place in her heart, and that’s what I did as if nobody was in the room but hopefully, someone was listening because I don’t even know what I’m saying; what’s coming out.
AE: How does Eleanor fit in this season with Bonny and Max?
CP: She’s been captured.
AE: Does she return?
CP: Maybe later! Maybe not. I have no idea. I don’t read the scripts! [laughs]
AE: You’re playing a fictionalized version of Anne Bonny, who was a real woman and was known to be a lover of the ladies in the past. How much did you find out about that in any research you did about her?
CP: Everything I could, so I did all the research that was available to me. It was kind of frustrating because the more and more I learned, I realized we didn’t actually know. And this was all kind of guess work, what they’re putting together, these historians. They’re the first to say it themselves: These aren’t facts. They have The Book of Pirates, which is what most of the information is from. And then they’ve got these drawings of her and records of her being a redhead so hence, the one thing I had to do was dye my hair red. Everything else we had a bit of an artistic license. She was born in Ireland, but she moved over so long that accent-wise, for example—we’re gypsies of the sea. So all of our accents are a smorgasbord of everything, and they can change. I personally thing that works really well. People might give you stick for sticking to one thing, but if they actually go and do all the research we’ve done, they’ll find out it’s impossible to know. We’re all doing the best of our capability with what we’ve got, and we’re creating a show—it’s entertainment. Treasure Island!
AE: Do you have any personal feelings about who you want Anne to end up with?
CP: Maybe she hasn’t met the person. I do think that Rackham is her be-all-and-end-all in an unconditional way, be it brotherly, motherly, fatherly, everything—they give each other everything emotionally that’s missing in this world. On the island, they’re the only—so far—genuine relationship. They bicker, they fight in a way that passionate long-term relationships do. They go through cheating on each other and doing all these things, but such a strong bond.
AE: Do you find doing love scenes with women different than those with men?
CP: I mean playing these loves scenes with Jess, we’re such good friends that it’s just giggles. And with Toby [Schmitz], he’s just like also my best girl buddy, so it’s kind of the same. I’ve been very fortunate with who I do the sex scenes with. It’s all very unsexual, and it’s all just really fun. The production is very respectful; other people I’ve spoken to feel the same about the closed set. There is really the minimum amount of people in that room, which makes it so easy for us, you know? We’re genuinely good friends off-set so we can talk about what we’re comfortable with and what we’re going to do in the scene, being true to our characters while still giving them what they want.
AE: What is the feedback you normally get from fans?
CP: I just get so many girls contacting me and say thank you so much for exploring those themes and that’s so rewarding for me. Somebody got a massive Anne Bonny tattoo on their leg. It’s really good, though. Like, thank God it’s good. It really does look like me because if it was a little bit wonky, I’d be like, “Uh!” My favorite fans are called The Bittersweets; I don’t know if you’ve come across them. Amazing! It’s like they get up every day and they dress as Jack and Anne. And it’s not just at Comic-Con because I’ve seen them do it random days throughout the year in these role plays. I’d love to meet them. I saw on Twitter in the Middle East Comic-Con, because obviously you can’t dress as a sexy pirate, was a Muslim woman dressed as Anne Bonny.
AE: It’s far reaching, Black Sails. Have you found it has an international audience?
CP: I love seeing who dubs my voice. Who dubs Vane?!
AE: Is there anything else you were excited about being able to do in Season 3?
CP: Being on the ships more. That was fun for me. I’m a pirate; I gotta be at sea. I spent all of the last couple seasons in a brothel. Which was also fun, lot’s of beautiful women around! Very male-dominated on the ship, and very female-dominated in the brothel, which just Rackham and me and all these women, which I think is intimidating for him because they’re all naked, too! It’s just like, “Oh yeah, by the way, there’s your tits.”
Black Sails returns to Starz this Saturday.